Don’t Get Burned Contest

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Public Health are inviting young people to join their fight against Big Tobacco. More than $5,000 in cash and prizes are up for grabs in the “Don’t Get Burned” social media contest. Youth and young adults (ages 9 – 24) are encouraged to enter the contest by creating a short video to help educate their peers about the dangers of tobacco. The video should be appropriate for sharing on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Vine, and other social media platforms.The contest provides an opportunity for youth to develop and showcase their talents — including social, communication, and creative skills. Most importantly, this is an opportunity for youth to take a stand against Big Tobacco, have their voices heard, and save lives.

So what are you waiting for? Get creative and get started!


We know you would do this for free, but just to make things more interesting, there is more than $5,000 up for grabs in cash and prizes…

Grand Prize
The grand prize winner will receive $1,500, some fun gear from our co-sponsors, a certificate from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and will be featured in a Tobacco Unfiltered (Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ official blog) post.

1st Place Winners
The 1st place winners will receive $500, some fun gear from our co-sponsors, and a certificate from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

2nd Place Winners
The 2nd place winners will receive $300, some fun gear from our co-sponsors, and a certificate from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

3rd Place Winners
The 3rd place winners will receive $200 and a certificate from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Six entries (three from Chicago and three from national entries) will be selected from each age group for a total of 18 semi-finalists. A 1st Place, 2nd Place, and 3rd Place prize will be awarded in each age category — for a total of nine prizes. Also, one grand prize winner will be selected — for a grand total of 10 prize winners.

Grand Prize Winner
Winners for ages 9 – 12
Winners for ages 13 – 17
Winners for ages 18 – 24

Seriously, what are you waiting for? Entries are due by October 30, 2019.


Getting Started

STEP 1 – Pick A Topic

We are giving you three options, but please pick only one and stick to it!
All entries should be based around one of the following topics:
Candy flavored poison:
Creating candy and fruit-flavored tobacco products is a proven industry tactic that hooks nearly 1,000 youth on tobacco products every single day. In 2009, after candy-flavored cigarettes were removed from the market, the tobacco industry immediately created candy and fruit-flavored cigarillos and cigars, as well as e-cigarettes that now come in flavors like gummy bear, cotton candy, bubble gum, Atomic Fireball, cherry cola, cherry limeade, caramel candy, and orange cream soda. They create these products because they need a new generation of tobacco users to keep their industry going. Stand up. Fight back. Don’t get burned by Big Tobacco.
Burned by menthol-flavored cigarettes
Menthol-flavored cigarettes are more addictive and harder to quit. Researchers at Harvard found the tobacco industry employed “a deliberate strategy to recruit and addict young smokers by adjusting menthol to create a milder experience for the first-time smoker.” Companies that sell menthol cigarettes have a well-documented history of developing and marketing menthol-flavored brands to racial and ethnic minorities, especially youth. There is evidence of the continued advertisement of menthol products to youth. Stand up. Fight back. Don’t get burned by Big Tobacco.
A push for policy
Are you pushing for a tobacco-free policy in your school or community? Whether you’re trying to pass a smokefree campus policy, encouraging Major League Baseball to “Knock Tobacco Out of the Ballpark,” urging your local pharmacy to stop selling tobacco, or some other policy, a social media campaign is a great way to educate others about the importance of your policy.
STEP 2 – Choose A Theme
Choose an evidence based message that has been proven to work:
Don’t be bought / burned / fooled / manipulated by Big TobaccoYou are not a pawn for the tobacco industry
Exposing the truth about the tobacco industrySmoking is gross
Quitting is hardIt’s toxic
Most people don’t smokeSmoking kills
STEP 3 – Start Planning
Read all contest requirements and guidelines carefully. Look below for explicit rules and judging qualifications.Brainstorm your video for a public education campaign as an individual or with a group, and start researching your facts and figures.Prepare and edit a 6 second video for Vine, a 3-15 second video for Instagram, a Youtube video under 30 seconds or directly upload work that is under 30 seconds in length. Add the video link to your submission form, or submit a video directly below.

Completed entry forms, including signed consent forms and videos must be received by October 30, 2019.

Helpful Tips and Resources

Consider Your Audience
Keep in mind that you are trying to reach people your age. Make your message relatable and think of ways to “hook” your audience! A hook can be a funny message, a statistic, an emotional story, etc.

Think of Creative Visuals
Your social media campaign can be live-action or animated. It can include anything from people to puppets. If you are already planning an anti-tobacco event, consider using footage from your event to spice up your video!

Focus Your Theme
Pick one of the three themes and leave your audience with one message that can be easily understood within the 30 second time frame.

Video Specs
Your video must be 30 seconds in length or shorter and filmed in high-resolution. Save your video in .mov, .avi, .wmv, .mpg format, or submit an Instagram, YouTube, or a Vine link with your submission form. Instagram videos must be 3-15 seconds long, and Vines must be 6 seconds long. If you need help producing your film, you can get assistance from your local community access cable TV station. Many offer free production courses and provide access to their production equipment.

Check Your Facts
Make sure all of the information that you use is accurate and up-to-date.

Contest Guidelines


Entries may be submitted by individuals or groups
Multiple entries are permitted
All participants must be current non-tobacco users, which means no e-cigs either
The contest is open to youth and young adults ages 9-24


All entry forms and signed consent forms must be received no later than 11:59PM Pacific time on October 30, 2019.
Upload your entry form with your submission.
All video submissions must be uploaded to here by 11:59PM Pacific time on October 30, 2019.
All entries must be appropriate and cannot include: profanity, youth tobacco use/smoking, violence or bullying, images attacking a specific tobacco company, copyright or trademark infringement, or any other inappropriate footage.
All entries must fit into one of the themes:
 •   Candy-flavored poison
 •   Burned by menthol-flavored cigarettes
 •   A push for policy
A panel of judges will be selected by the Chicago Department of Public Health.
A total of three winners will be selected from each age category. And, one grand prize winner will be selected. The judges’ decision is final.
There is no entry fee.
An entry must have one Lead Producer. While several students may work together on the project, it must be submitted under only one name. Any prizes will be awarded to the named Lead Producer only. Participants can choose to divide the prize on their own terms if they wish.
IF CHOSEN AS A WINNER you must submit a signed/completed release forms, including Parent Permission Form and an Actor Release Form (if applicable).


All entries that meet the contest rules and requirements will be judged based on the following criteria:

Originality/Creativity Was the theme presented in a clear and innovative way? Does the video / social media content use compelling visuals (if applicable) and have a clear message?
Appropriateness Are all images and words age-appropriate and suitable for public broadcast or posting on Chicago Department of Public Health and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids websites?
Use of Accurate Facts and Statistics Does the entry include accurate facts and statistics on youth and tobacco use?
Production QualityIs the entry ready to go viral on social media?
Evidence Based Message Was an evidence based theme chosen to support your topic?